On combined 6 for 24 shooting, Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood who scored nearly 40 points per game all season produced just 20 for Duke on Friday and the third-seeded Blue Devils were knocked off by No. 14 seed Mercer 78-71 in the NCAA Tournament at PNC Arena.
Dunk City is long gone. Make way for the next bunch of bracket busters from the little-known Atlantic Sun Conference: Mercer. The 8,300-student school from Macon, Ga., delivered the biggest shocker in an already topsy-turvy NCAA tournament on Friday, going into Duke’s backyard and knocking off the No. 3 seed Blue Devils 78-71.
Duke (27-6), a second seed, opens against No. 15 seed Winthrop (24-8) Saturday, March 22 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the opening round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament's Lincoln Regional (11 a.m., ESPN2). In the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Cameron, DePaul (27-6) meets Oklahoma (18-14) at 1:30 p.m.
Named Wayman Tisdale Award winner as nation's top freshman, Parker appreciates meaning thanks to Duke associate coach Jeff Capel
No. 8-ranked and third-seeded Duke know there's no automatic pass against the 14th-seeded Mercer Bears in their Midwest Regional game at PNC Arena Friday (12:15 p.m., WRAL).
Duke's 67-year-old Hall of Fame coach says he has no plans to step aside
NCAA TOURNAMENT PUTS PREMIUM ON PERIMETER PLAY
Heading into No. 8 Duke’s NCAA Tournament game with Mercer on Friday (12:15 p.m., WRAL), Blue Devil senior guard Tyler Thornton knows how things can be during the season’s most important games “We are going to rotate guys,” Thornton said. But at this time of the year if you are playing well coach is going to keep you on the floor. If a guy is doing something really well that’s helping the team, coach is going to keep you on the floor because we don’t get another day.”
Duke learned the harshest lesson of all about being denied another chance to play when Thornton was a sophomore. In the 2012 NCAA Tournament, 15th-seeded Lehigh upset the No. 2-seeded Blue Devils 75-70 at Greensboro Coliseum.
Thornton started that night, contributing seven points, six assists and only two turnovers in 33 minutes before fouling out. But Duke had more turnovers (13) than assists (12) that night. Defensively, Duke struggled to contain Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum, who scored 30 points while making 10 of 11 free throws.
Lehigh turned the ball over just eight times.
It didn’t matter that Duke had the superior athletes — starters Austin Rivers, Miles Plumlee, Mason Plumlee all became NBA first-round draft picks — and a Hall of Fame coach. Lehigh beat Duke on the perimeter and won the game.
That game is just one example of how important perimeter play is when NCAA Tournament time arrives.
Public criticism of officials fair game for all this season
Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins is back on the big stage of the NCAA Tournament for the first time as a head coach after some special runs as a Blue Devil player and assistant.
Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood, Duke’s leading scorers, will play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time on Friday.
After runner-up finish at ACC Tournament, Blue Devils earn No. 2 seed in Nebraska Regional. Duke starts play at Cameron on Saturday.
Duke received the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region Sunday night and will play 14th-seeded Mercer at PNC Arena in Raleigh this Friday (12:15 p.m., WRAL) .
NCAA BRACKET: ACC lands 6 in bracket ... N.C. State to play Xavier in First Four; Duke No. 3 seed (Midwest); UNC No. 6 seed (South); N.C. Central No. 14 seed (South). ACC gets six teams into field including No. 1 seed Virginia (East), No. 3 Syracuse (South), No. 9 Pittsburgh (South).
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said the technical foul called after he threw a pen at the floor during Sunday’s Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship game was “absolutely ridiculous” and “shameful.”
For a third straight year, the ACC Tournament final turned into a celebration for an upstart program that hadn’t won the event since long before the current players were born. And once again, it came at the expense of the Tobacco Road rivals that had long dominated the conference.